Smithsonian rejects O.J. Simpson's acquittal suit
It's American and historic, but the Smithsonian has rejected the tan suit O.J. Simpson wore when acquitted in his infamous 1995 murder trial.
"We feel that this suit does not have a direct enough connection to represent the story of this event," said Valeska Hilbig, spokeswoman for the National Museum of American History. "This is no comment on the trial, O.J. Simpson, or the acquittal."
Smithsonian officials learned of the proposed donation in media reports Monday night. Museum curators met first thing Tuesday morning and quickly decided they wanted no part of it.
"We didn't think it was a good fit," Hilbig told us. Kind of like the famous glove, huh? Would that have made the cut? Or his white Bronco? "I couldn't tell you because we haven't thought about it."
The museum's collection is full of items with arguably less cultural significance than the "Trial of the Century": Jerry Seinfeld's puffy shirt, Bruce Willis's "Die Hard" undershirt, the camcorder from the first "America's Funniest Home Videos." But, probably for the same reason the museum turned down Monica's Lewinsky's blue dress, the outfit came with too much baggage.
The suit, shirt and tie were part of a contentious 13-year lawsuit between Mike Gilbert, Simpson's former agent (who claimed they were a gift from the former football player) and Fred Goldman, whose son, Ron, was killed alongside Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. Goldman wanted the suit as part of a $33 million civil judgment against Simpson. In a settlement hearing, Gilbert and Goldman agreed Monday to donate the suit to the Smithsonian or another institution.
Simpson's attorney, Ronald Slates, told our colleague Eric Athas that Gilbert originally hoped to cash in on the suit. But Simpson, serving a nine-year sentence for armed robbery, agreed to the donation only if "there's no profit for anybody."
Since the Smithsonian has declined, the suit will be offered to other museums. D.C.'s National Museum of Crime & Punishment -- which just proudly unveiled Ted Bundy's VW -- has already weighed in, saying it would love to have the suit as part of a exhibition about "people who were assumed guilty before the trial started, tried by the media if you will," said spokeswoman Linda Marie Czop. "We're not just going to stick it in a corner."
Goldman's attorney, David Cook, was confident that it would find a good home -- a media museum or maybe an institution of higher learning.
"It's going to hang in America's closet for everybody to see as the ultimate symbol of justice gone berserk," he said. "One would say it's the equivalent of John Dillinger's gun. Not all lessons have to be good ones -- some lessons are tragic."
The Reliable Source
March 2, 2010; 2:20 PM ET
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